ATI's new Radeon HD 3870 X2 has restored some faith among enthusiasts that the company could produce a decent high-end product that is competitive with NVIDIA's best. Even if it took two Radeon HD 3870 cores to beat the top G80, end-users did not need a CrossFire capable board (just like the GeForce 7950 GX2) and the CrossFire implementation was invisible and hassle free (though we would like the option to disable it when CrossFire stumbles.) Add to that the somewhat competitive pricing which matches the present retail price of a GeForce 8800 GTX and one has the making of a rather decent product.
It ain't a graphics card launch if it was free of controversy and debate however, with the performance of the X2 highly dependent on CrossFire working perfectly and with new drivers made available on ATI's FTP on its launch date that claim to improve performance. Unfortunately, the problem is that we have yet to see significant benchmark improvements on our system with these new drivers. We have also seen some discussions about its PCIe 2.0 status. Reading the fine print on ATI's website quickly clears it up. All Radeon HD 3870 X2 are supposed to be PCIe 2.0 compatible if they follow strictly to ATI's design specifications but the board partners' retail products may not conform fully. Hence, one should check the manufacturer's specifications and box packaging carefully to ensure that it has the proper support.
Of course, this point is moot for us at the moment, since we can't really test this out on our non-PCIe 2.0 test system but regardless of whether it is PCIe 1.1 (as its internal 48-lane PCIe 1.1 PLX switch seems to suggest) or 2.0, we believe that the difference should be minimal. What's more relevant to consumers is that there are quite a few vendors offering the Radeon HD 3870 X2, which is always a good sign of its prospects. Not only that, there are also a couple of interesting, custom boards that includes non standard features. One of these, is GeCube's Radeon HD 3870 X-2 X-Turbo Dual O.C Edition, which besides being slightly overclocked, comes with its X-Turbo Dual cooler with two 75mm fans and quad heatpipes. It even offers four dual-link DVI outputs and a tweaked PCB design. Details after the specifications below: